Anyway, enough of my whining. Here's chapter 17 of SKOM.
Title: Some Kind of Miracle (17/?)
Author: Annie (_pinkchocolate)
Pairings: HP/DM, HP/GW
Disclaimer: Everything belongs to JK Rowling. Well... almost everything.
Summary: Draco is determined to live the last nine months of his life with no regrets. But when a series of unfortunate events exposes a list of his innermost wishes, ambitions, and desires to Harry Potter’s eyes, he might find that facing his imminent death is not so easy after all.
Word Count: 5,175
Notes: Sorry for the wait. This month has been ridiculously busy, so I haven't had the time to write new chapters. Luckily, winter break is starting in a week, so I'll have more free time then. Thanks for beta'ing, Vana!
16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 P
I can’t sleep now, no, not like I used to
I can’t breathe in and out like I need to
It’s breaking ice, now, to make any movement
What's your vice? You know that mine’s the illusion
- OneRepublic, “Goodbye Apathy”
Draco was reluctantly woken up by the pounding in his head the next morning. He blinked several times, the bright sunlight streaming through cracks in the walls almost painful on his eyes, and shifted, gingerly touching his throbbing temples.
At least it’s not as bad as they say it is, he thought ruefully. He had heard hangovers likened to being trampled by a herd of stampeding Hippogriffs and then force-fed the orange end of a Puking Pastille, but this was more like a particularly vengeful headache.
Carefully, he hoisted himself into a half-sitting position. This action proved to have its repercussions; Draco barely had time to take in his surroundings before a wave of nausea rolled over him, forcing him to clap a hand over his mouth and grit his teeth.
“All right there, Malfoy?” said a vaguely amused voice.
With great difficulty, Draco swallowed and removed his hand. “Potter,” he greeted tersely, too concentrated on the task of not throwing up to look up. The throbbing in his head grew more insistent, stubbornly preventing his mind from wandering back to the night before, the memories of which were currently frustratingly vague.
“Here” – footsteps thundered across the wooden floor, and Draco winced – “take this.” The footsteps stopped near Draco, and a small bottle was thrust into Draco’s face. Draco took it.
“What is it?” he half groaned, not wanting to lift his eyelids again and face the glaring sunlight.
“The bloke at the store said it’d help in the morning,” said Harry’s voice, now sounding concerned. “You seemed pretty out of it, but you didn’t drink that much, so I expect it’ll work well enough.”
Draco didn’t even protest Harry’s jab at his alcohol tolerance. Bidding a silent farewell to his father’s policy of never accepting unknown drinks from others, he uncapped the bottle Harry had given him and downed the bitter-tasting liquid in one gulp.
Almost instantly, the pounding in his head subsided. Heaving a sigh of relief, Draco opened his eyes, set the bottle aside, and sat up straight.
“What time is it?” he rasped, rubbing his forehead and looking around.
Harry had returned to his seat and was now carefully avoiding Draco’s gaze. “Nearly ten,” he said, his eyes fixed on a point just above Draco’s left ear.
“Nearly ten?” Draco repeated, frowning. “Didn’t you say you wanted to leave early?”
Harry now looked distinctly uncomfortable. “Yeah, but I figured I’d let you… sleep in a bit,” he said, his eyes flicking nervously from side to side.
Confused, Draco slumped back against the back of the sofa and scoured his mind for details from the previous night. They trickled slowly into the forefront of his mind, like water through a pinprick-sized hole in a dam, until at long last a good enough of a picture had formed for Draco to glean the general idea of what had happened to make Harry behave so strangely.
“Oh, for the love of Merlin!” he exclaimed, jolting upright. “We didn’t…?”
“You’re the one who... you know,” said Harry, shrugging helplessly. He was blushing again, and Draco swallowed hard, willing his body not to react as he bent forward and hid his own flushed face beneath his fringe.
“Potter, why didn’t you stop me?” he demanded hoarsely. “I didn’t – I shouldn’t –”
“Forget it,” said Harry quickly, as though determined to put an end to this awkward subject, “it wasn’t – I mean, I have no problem with – and I’m not going to – let’s start packing up, shall we?”
He ended his stammering on a thoroughly flustered note, leapt to his feet, and began tidying the room they had spent the night in with the help of his wand. Draco noticed that when he reached the copy of Hogwarts: A History that he had given to Draco, he paused and picked it up himself.
“Here,” said Harry, thrusting the book at Draco without meeting his eyes.
Draco took the gift, too embarrassed to think of anything to say. The moment he was sure that Harry’s back was turned, he wrapped it carefully in his blanket.
As he watched Harry vanish the decorations from the Christmas tree, Draco sat and thought about what he had accidentally let slip to Harry the night before. Was it true, what he’d said? His father had told him many times that people, when inebriated, confessed all sorts of truths that they usually had the sense to keep to themselves. That was why, according to Lucius, drinking too much in public was never prudent. But surely Draco would have realised if he was falling in love, especially with Harry; after all, it wasn’t as though love and hate were two emotions that were easily confused.
Calm down and think, Malfoy, Draco silently scolded himself. How could this have happened?
Taking a mental step backwards, Draco recalled Harry sitting at his bedside in the middle of the night, calling desperately to him, his voice thick with worry for someone he had hated for six years of his life; Harry’s anger on his behalf when McGonagall had told him it was impossible for him to see his mother; Harry’s arms around him in an attempt to ward off the Dementors’ influence, just before they Disapparated away from Azkaban; and it occurred to him that maybe he just hadn’t known enough to recognise the symptoms until now.
Then, with a sharp intake of breath, Draco remembered all the moments they had spent together that had almost made him forget that his days were limited; all the nights he had stayed up wondering if Harry would remember him when he was gone; all the casual touches and glances and smiles that had sent his heart into overdrive and his cold retorts fading away into oblivion; and he knew that he just hadn’t known enough to recognise the symptoms until now.
The realisation hit him with the force of a Stunning Spell straight to the chest. He had stupidly gone and fallen for the one person he couldn’t afford to.
It was with a heavy heart that Harry led the way through the underground tunnel that connected the Shrieking Shack to the Hogwarts grounds. Along the way, he tried to cheer himself up by thinking about how he would finally get to see Ron, Hermione, and Ginny in a matter of hours. But it didn’t work – with every step he took, his mind flew back to the night before, and he was once again confronted with a number of unpleasant thoughts that he wasn’t quite ready to face.
When they finally emerged onto the snow-frosted grounds, Harry breathed a silent sigh of relief. He was so happy about leaving behind the site of last night’s events that even the harsh, bitterly cold winds seemed lighter than usual. He scooped up a handful of loose snow as he wriggled out of the crevice in the roots, scrambled to his feet, and tossed the snow into the air, watching it glitter in the morning sunshine as it drifted back down to earth.
When all the snow had settled back into the blanket covering the ground, Harry spun around to face Draco. He was watching Harry, his grey eyes glinting in the sunlight. There was something strange about the look in them – it was more guarded that usual, but that wasn’t what was putting Harry off. After a few seconds, he realised what it was: the unnerving fear he had seen when their gazes locked at Gringotts was back.
For a moment, Harry thought to ask Draco what was wrong, but then he remembered what Draco had said the night before about Ginny, and his resolve hardened. “Let’s go before someone sees us out here,” he said, fighting to keep his tone neutral.
Harry made to turn back towards the castle, but Draco caught his arm, forcing him to meet his eyes. “Don’t go,” he said.
Sucking in a deep breath, Harry wrenched his arm away. “I have to.”
“Then break up with her,” Draco urged, his gaze intensifying tenfold; Harry found himself quite unable to look away. “I’m giving you a choice, Potter.”
Harry stiffened in surprise. He had been expecting Draco to say a lot of things, but that certainly had not been one of them. This was proof, then, that Draco had actually meant what he’d said and done in the Shrieking Shack the night before.
This knowledge alone made Harry hesitate. It would have been so simple, he knew, to simply say no and shake off Draco’s arm. But he didn’t. He remained silent, afraid to open his mouth for fear of the answer that would come out.
“A choice,” Draco repeated, before letting go of Harry’s arm.
Harry swallowed, and before he could stop himself, he blurted out, “I’ll see what happens over the rest of break.”
Draco appraised Harry, his eyes narrow and guarded once more. Then he gave a short nod and set off towards the castle, leaving Harry to wonder, as he so often seemed to do when it came to Draco, whether he had royally screwed things up again by speaking without thinking first.
Draco didn’t accompany Harry up to McGonagall’s office. They said good-bye at the foot of the main stairs, eyes averted (for Draco had not shared the news of his recent epiphany concerning his feelings towards Harry) and a good few feet of space between them. Draco did, however, watch Harry until he had disappeared from sight, hoping the other boy would remember their earlier conversation on the grounds.
As Draco began heading up to the library, the copy of Hogwarts: A History Harry had given him clutched tightly in his hands and the library’s copy in his bookbag, it struck him just how uncomfortably empty he now felt. It was as though coming to terms with the fact that he was quite irrationally in love with Harry had amplified the hole Harry’s absence usually left behind – a hole Draco had not even noticed until now – and made it ten times worse than before.
Love, thought Draco grimly, is a bitch.
Draco automatically turned towards the sound of his name. In the split second that followed, two things happened simultaneously: his heart leapt into his throat, and his left hand plunged down into the pocket of his robes for his wand – only to find that it wasn’t there. He had left his wand in the Slytherin common room and had not thought to go back to get it when he returned earlier.
Draco’s heart immediately changed its course of direction and sank to the floor.
“What’s that? No wand? Dear, dear… and look, Potter’s not around to defend you, either…”
The group of Slytherins closed in around Draco, identical leers on their faces. Pansy hung back, looking uncertain; she refused to meet Draco’s eyes when he sought hers.
Panicking now, Draco frantically looked around for a friendly face, but found none. Even the non-Slytherin students passing by on their way to lunch either looked away pointedly or ignored the scene altogether.
Draco nearly laughed at the irony of it all: the houses had finally united, but under circumstances that once would have prompted discord. Then he reminded himself that laughing was the last thing he should be doing when he was about to meet his demise at the hands of a group of scowling schoolchildren, but the irony of that only served to further increase his detached amusement at the whole thing.
What the hell is wrong with you, Malfoy?! a voice in the back of Draco’s mind suddenly shrieked, effectively snapping Draco out of his musings. Run, you great moron!
Draco wasted no more time. Drawing a deep breath, he did just that.
“Potter,” McGonagall greeted, as Harry entered her office. “The Floo powder is on the mantelpiece. Try not to spill too much on the rug as you leave.”
“No, Professor,” said Harry. He glanced nervously at her, wondering if she knew that he and Draco had spent the last twenty-four hours breaking a handful of school rules, not to mention a fair few wizarding laws, but McGonagall had already turned back to the letter she was reading and seemed to have nothing else to say to Harry. Dumbledore’s portrait, however, was scrutinising Harry from behind his golden frame with a rather interested twinkle in his eye. Harry blushed and looked away, positive that, portrait or not, Dumbledore was using Legilimency to read his mind.
Having no other reason to dawdle, Harry stepped up to the handsome fireplace and took a handful of Floo powder from a carved marble container. Just before he threw it into the hearth, however, he stopped short, suddenly aware of a tingle of unease at the base of his spine.
“Is something wrong, Potter?” asked McGonagall, looking up from her letter with raised eyebrows.
“Nothing,” said Harry quickly, shaking off the strange sensation. He hurriedly tossed the glittering powder in his hands into the fireplace; emerald green flames instantly burst into life on the grate.
Despite his reassurances, as Harry stepped into the pleasantly warm fire, another twinge of apprehension drove him to wonder briefly if it was a good idea after all to leave Draco on his own. Harry couldn’t rid himself of the faint feeling that something was wrong, and that things would only get worse if he left.
No, Harry told himself firmly; your life doesn’t revolve around him. It’s about time you stopped sacrificing your own happiness for his, Harry.
Nevertheless, as he shouted out the name of the Order’s current headquarters – Highcrest Hall – and watched McGonagall’s office spin out of sight, Harry couldn’t help thinking that maybe pursuing his own happiness wasn’t the entire reason why he was so determined to go back to his friends.
It seemed to take longer than usual for Harry’s target fireplace to come flying into view. When Harry finally stepped out in a whirl of ashes, he barely had half a second to take in his bearings before Hermione and Ron came running towards him from a doorway on the opposite side of the room he had arrived in.
“Harry!” exclaimed Hermione, sweeping him into a tight, bone-crushing embrace. “We were expecting you to come earlier, what happened?”
“Let him breathe, Hermione,” said Ron’s exasperated voice, and Harry was instantly reminded of his first visit to Grimmauld Place, back during the summer before his fifth year.
“It’s all right, mate,” said Harry, once Hermione had released him. He grinned at Ron, but Ron merely regarded him with an odd, almost stony, expression. Blinking, Harry asked, “Where’s Ginny?”
“Out,” said Ron flatly.
Harry furrowed his eyebrows at Ron’s cold tone. “What’s gotten into you?” he demanded.
“Nothing,” said Ron, though his voice made it clear that “nothing” was, in fact, a very big “something”.
“Ron,” said Hermione warningly. Harry was once again reminded of that day two summers ago, and how he had felt when he found out that Ron and Hermione had been keeping secrets from him.
Holding up a hand, Harry said calmly, “No, Hermione, let’s hear him out.” He raised an eyebrow at Ron. “Well?”
The tips of Ron’s ears were rapidly turning red, a sure sign that he was trying to contain an angry outburst. Harry could tell that he was torn between giving Harry a piece of his mind and sticking to the code of conduct he and Hermione had been following whenever they were around Harry for the past few months.
Annoyed now, Harry said loudly, “Spit it out, Ron, and don’t patronise me. I’ve had enough of being treated like a patient on death row by you, thanks.”
This seemed to do it for Ron. “MALFOY!” he snarled, stepping forward and jabbing Harry in the chest. Hermione let out a terrified squeak. “You – and Malfoy – you were the one who – at the trial –”
With a sinking feeling, Harry understood what Ron was trying to say. Someone had finally convinced him that Harry had, in fact, been the one who acquitted Draco.
“– and then you didn’t even come back for bloody Christmas, even though you said you’d be here –”
Harry shot Hermione a pleading look, but she shook her head and wrung her hands helplessly, indicating that she hadn’t told Ron. Gritting his teeth, Harry braced himself for the rest of Ron’s tirade.
“– that I found that letter you sent Hermione, isn’t it, because otherwise I’d still be in the dark right now, wouldn’t I?”
Hermione’s mouth fell open. Drawing herself up, she spluttered, “Ron, you – you went through my things?”
“I BLOODY WELL DID!” Ron bellowed. He looked quite deranged. “Were you two planning to keep this little secret of yours from me forever? Did you think you could keep making excuses to cover up Harry’s little escapades?”
Harry glanced briefly at Hermione, who now looked as furious with Ron as Ron was with Harry, and took a deep, steadying breath. “Ron, he –”
“I SENT HIM TO AZKABAN! DO YOU EVEN KNOW HOW HARD – HOW LONG WE TRIED –”
“I know, can you just –“
“HE – KILLED – MY – PARENTS!”
And then, before Harry could do anything to defend himself, Ron lurched forward, seized the front of his robes, and punched him squarely in the jaw.
Harry staggered backwards, letting loose a string of profanities that nearly drowned out Hermione’s shriek. Eyes watering with pain and fists clenched at his sides, he spun on his heel, ready to give Ron a piece of his mind, when a startled voice stopped him.
Surprised, Harry froze in the act of pushing Hermione aside to get at Ron and turned to look at the person who had said his name.
Nymphadora Tonks was standing in the doorway, one hand on her stomach and the other on the doorframe. She looked utterly bewildered by the scene before her.
“T-Tonks?” Harry stammered, his mind going temporarily blank at the sight of her. It had been so long since he last saw her that he had almost forgotten what she looked like.
“That’s me,” she said. “What’s going on here?”
“Just a friendly argument,” said Hermione weakly, relaxing her hold on the front of Ron’s jumper.
Tonks’ eyebrows flew up into her bubblegum-coloured hair. “‘Friendly’?” she repeated, her gaze travelling from Harry, who was sporting a bruised jaw, to Ron, whose chest was still heaving. The corners of her lips twitched. “Well, I hate to break it up, boys, but could one of you come down to the kitchen and help me with lunch? Good to see you, by the way, Harry.”
“You too,” said Harry distractedly. Now that he had gotten over the initial shock of seeing Tonks, the pain in his jaw came rushing back, along with his anger at Ron. Harry no longer felt the slightest bit guilty for not telling his friend the truth earlier. Besides, it wasn’t as if what he had done even mattered anymore; Draco had less than six months to live before what Harry had delayed would finally be finished.
This thought brought about another burst of anger, and Harry suddenly found that he could no longer stand to be in the same room as two his best friends, not when they had played such a large part in ensuring that a death sentence was hung over Draco’s head. He knew that he was being irrational, that Ron and Hermione had had every reason to pursue and capture Draco at the time, but that didn’t stop him from setting his jaw and striding past them without another word. As he followed Tonks out of the room, he heard Hermione hiss, “How dare you go through my belongings, Ron?” and smiled darkly to himself, knowing that Ron would at least get the verbal part of the beating he deserved.
“What happened?” asked Tonks inquisitively, as she led Harry down the set of dusty steps that joined the kitchen and the main floor.
“What d’you mean?” said Harry unconvincingly. He sat down at the table, watching as Tonks drew her wand and pointed it at the pantry. The door flew open with a bang and two mouldy-looking potatoes zoomed out, ricocheting off the far wall and just barely missing Harry’s head.
“Sorry,” said Tonks, wincing. She Vanished the potatoes with a wave of her wand. Brightly, she added, “I’m absolute pants at this kind of stuff.”
Harry, who had toppled off his chair in his hurry to duck the flying potatoes, hauled himself back to his feet. “I noticed,” he grumbled.
“I’ve been trying to learn, you know, since Molly’s not around to cook for everyone anymore, and I figure I might as well make myself useful while I’m under house arrest...”
Tonks trailed off, looking flustered, and it was then that Harry noticed that she still had a hand on her abdomen.
“Is something wrong?” he asked, gesturing at her stomach.
Tonks blinked. “Wrong? No, not at all! Remus didn’t tell you?”
“Tell me what?” said Harry warily.
Harry gaped at Tonks. “P-pregnant?” he repeated dumbly, all thoughts of his fight with Ron fleeing his mind.
Tonks nodded, beaming at Harry. “We just found out a week ago.”
“But,” Harry protested, still grappling with the idea of Tonks being pregnant, “you and Remus aren’t even married yet.”
Laughing, Tonks replied, “We’ve already set a date for the wedding. Remus wants it to be a small affair; he doesn’t want to draw any attention.”
“Oh,” said Harry lamely. “Well... congratulations!”
Tonks beamed at Harry again. “Thanks, Harry. But don’t try to distract me,” she added, adopting what she clearly thought was a stern expression, though it looked more like a funny grimace to Harry. “What exactly was going on back there? Why’d Ron punch you?”
“It’s no big deal,” said Harry uneasily. He wasn’t sure if he was ready to talk about Draco with Tonks; after all, she was an Auror and would probably side with Ron.
“I heard him yelling something about my dear cousin Draco,” she persisted, as she began taking out pots and pans and setting them on the counter. “Did something happen to him?”
Harry did a double take. He had forgotten that Tonks and Draco were related. “Well... no, not really,” he answered bracingly.
With a heavy sigh, he looked up into Tonks’ curious face. Before he knew it, he was pouring out the story of his newfound friendship with Draco – leaving out, of course, the details of what had happened at the Shrieking Shack.
“...and then McGonagall told us on Christmas Eve that the only way he’d ever be able to go was if we went the next day, so you see, I had to go with him.”
Harry gazed at Tonks imploringly, silently begging her to see from his perspective. She merely knitted her eyebrows together and gave a jerk of her chin to indicate that Harry should continue. He shook his head.
“That’s it,” he said.
“So Ron’s angry because he thinks you’ve chosen his parents’ murderer over him?”
“Malfoy didn’t –”
Tonks shook her head. “No,” she said, cutting Harry’s protest off, “I’m just trying to think like Ron right now.”
“That’s comforting,” Harry muttered.
Waving Harry’s retort aside, Tonks said, “Well, I’m no expert when it comes to this kind of stuff, but I think part of the reason why Ron’s so livid is that he’s jealous. It sounds like you’ve been spending a lot of time with my cousin, more time than you’ve been spending with Ron and Hermione and maybe even Ginny – she told me the other day that she rarely speaks to you anymore.”
Anger at being talked about behind his back, followed by indignation at being accused of ignoring his friends, rose inside of Harry. “That’s not true!” he argued. “It’s just – I can’t leave Malfoy alone! His housemates are out for his blood, you don’t know what they’re like... They’ll want revenge for Nott’s expulsion. I shouldn’t have left him alone with them...”
Harry trailed off there, too distressed to explain himself more coherently. Tonks shot him a pitying look.
“Harry, have you got any idea how pathetic you sound right now?” she said kindly. “Draco is a big boy. He doesn’t need you to baby him; he can take care of himself. And since when was it ex-Death Eaters first for you?”
“It’s not,” he said, flustered. “I just feel responsible for what happens to him. I mean, it’s my fault that he’s in this situation, isn’t it? I should have thought about what he would want before I tipped the vote.”
Tonks laughed. “Sometimes you’re too gallant for your own good, Harry.”
Blushing, Harry shrugged. “Sorry,” he mumbled.
“Nothing to apologise for,” said Tonks brightly. She turned her attention back to the pot she had placed on the stove and frowned at it. “Shame we don’t have a house-elf here...”
“I could call Kreacher over,” Harry suggested, relieved that Tonks had left off her teasing.
“Don’t bother, he loathes me. I suppose we’ll just have to wait for Fleur to come back from work.” She sighed, looking sullen. “I reckon I know now how Sirius felt, being stuck at home all the time.”
“Where’s Ginny?” Harry asked in an attempt to distract Tonks, who had abandoned her feeble attempts to whip up lunch and seated herself across the table from Harry, from moping over her current predicament.
“Oh, she went to look around the neighbourhood,” said Tonks. “Something about wanting to have a shufti at the Muggle gadgets they sell around here.”
“She’s out alone on the streets?” Harry asked sharply.
Tonks smiled knowingly at Harry’s tone. “Relax, Harry. She’s not going to be attacked by a Death Eater on the run in Muggle London.”
Sheepishly, Harry said, “Sorry, I’m just paranoid after –”
“After you nearly lost her,” Tonks finished for him, nodding wisely. “I know.”
They sat in silence, remembering the night Harry had destroyed the locket and how its final act had been torturing Harry to the brink of madness by possessing Ginny. At least, that was what Harry was remembering – Tonks, like everyone else, including Ginny, was oblivious to the full story. She thought that Voldemort had merely placed Ginny under the Imperius curse that night. To this day, Ron and Hermione remained the only ones who knew that it had actually been a piece of Voldemort’s soul that had sent accusations and lies spilling out of Ginny’s mouth.
After a few moments of reflection, Tonks cleared her throat and stood back up. “Anyway, I’m going to go get some paperwork done.” She scowled at the clock on the opposite wall, as if it were its fault that she was at home doing paperwork instead of out hunting Dark wizards. “Ginny should be back any minute now – oh, and sorry about lunch, Harry!”
Still looking glum, she stood up and left. Now alone in the kitchen, Harry put his head in his hands and exhaled loudly.
Was what Tonks had said true? Was he really putting Draco’s needs above his friendships with Ron, Hermione, and Ginny? Now that he thought about it, he hadn’t spent much time with them lately... And not spending Christmas with them and the rest of the Order – his second family – in favour of going to Azkaban with Draco Malfoy seemed stupid, even absurd, from this side of the holiday...
But what about what Ron said? argued a small voice in his head. He didn’t have any right to accuse Malfoy of those things! He wasn’t even there that night, he didn’t see Malfoy try to cover for you!
“Exactly,” Harry reminded the voice dully. “He doesn’t know what happened, so he had every right to say what he said.”
Sighing, Harry scratched morosely at a jagged burn on the scrubbed wood surface of the table. Though he still didn’t like Ron’s attitude towards Draco – and this alarmed him, since Ron’s hatred of Draco had never bothered him before, but he drove it out of his mind, willing himself not to think about his new feelings towards Draco in a time like this – he could no longer deny that he needed to rethink his priorities.
Harry knew what it was like to be without Ron’s friendship, and he didn’t want to have to go through that again. Hermione, too, deserved better, especially considering everything Harry had put her and Ron through during the war. And Ginny – he would talk to her and try his best to mend their relationship. They had been through too much together to just let it all fall apart over Harry’s conflicted feelings about a boy he had despised until two months ago. “After you nearly lost her” – Tonks’ earlier words surfaced in Harry’s mind, cementing his determination to rekindle the flame he had not seen dying until now.
So what if Harry had promised Draco that he wouldn’t dismiss what Draco had said without giving it some thought first? It wasn’t as if there was anything real between them; hadn’t Draco said so himself? Besides, they could still be friends. If they just pretended to forget about everything that had happened on Christmas night, no harm would be done. And even if Draco was in love with him – though it was doubtful, Harry reminded himself, since Draco had denied it – it probably wasn’t anything serious. The other boy had most likely just deluded himself into thinking he had fallen for Harry in his desperation to get through his list.
A small, traitorous part of Harry’s subconscious mind, however, scoffed at Harry’s attempts to convince himself that he was doing the right thing by going back to Ginny without giving Draco a chance. It pointed out that the real reason why he had made the choice he’d made was that he was afraid of what would happen if he didn’t.
And why shouldn’t I be afraid? Harry silently demanded, hating the part of himself that would not blind itself to his cowardly decision. The backlash entailed by accepting whatever it was Draco was offering made Harry uneasy. Merlin knew he had never been one to live according to what others deemed normal, but this was different. This wasn’t anything like rebelling against the Ministry, because that had been about believing in the truth, and Harry had known then that eventually he would be proven right. This time, Harry had no idea what he was facing, and it made him nervous. For once, he was balking at the thought of taking a risk.
Ignoring the heavy feeling of guilt in his gut, Harry set off to apologise to his friends.